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The History of:

Chapter 58

American Legion Riders

Of Texas

El Paso, Texas

 

22 February 2004

 

By; Chris R Williams

“Moonhanger”

and

Lorna Pelton

Historians

 

“In the Beginning”

22 February 2004

 

            When John Baird came to me and mentioned he was interested in establishing an American Legion Rider’s Chapter Association in West Texas, I thought it was an excellent idea.  However, not all thought it to be.  We were told, you won’t be able to recruit enough people and you won’t be able to get the support of an American Legion post.  Well Naysayers, beware and take note.  The Paso del Norte Post 58 American Legion Riders was officially established and officially named; “Chapter 58, American Legion Riders of Texas”.  This establishment was officiated by an official meeting held at the American Legion Post 58, 4724 Vulcan Street, El Paso, Texas.  This chapter is the furthest west ALR chapter in the state of Texas.

              As infamous as this territory is; with the likes of John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and Marty Robbins’ descriptions of a West Texas Town of cowboys riding horses through the desert, Chapter 58 of the American Legion Riders of Texas are riding their steel ponies through the desert.  We are keeping the legacy alive.

              At the end of our “Charter Membership” drive (30 Apr 2004), the names of those “Charter Members” will be listed on this history document.

              The mission of the first meeting was, to establish officers and to develop the beginnings of an organizational structure; also to define a direction for the organization. 

              The overall mission of the organization is to uphold the mission and goals of the American Legion and the American Legion Riders, both national and state chapters.

 

28 February 2004

 

            On this date, Post 58 sponsored a Chili Cook off and Poker Run.  This event was attended by members of the ALR.  The weather was cold, raining, and a little snow.  During the run, 3 new members were recruited for the ALR.  In only 6 days, the ALR chapter has grown to 15 members.

              During the run, ALR riders found a place called, “Sue & Bill’s Last Chance” and, they more than willing to have us use their place for runs, stops and meetings.

             John Baird, ALR Director won second best hand during the Poker Run, with pair of Kings.

             The Legion Post 58 treasurer is coordinating with Tulara, our Chapter Treasurer, getting started with the ALR  financial details and tax exemption status.

             John Paul Baird, local Realtor, rode with the ALR throughout the day. We are considering making him an “Honorary” member.

            Frank Salas, our Road Captain, seems to have a problem with bikes behind him and, Mack Hare, our Assistant Director likes scenic routes in heavy rain. Even with the bad weather, it was a great event and all had a safe and fun time.

 

28 March 2004

 

            On this date, 25 members now, 16 of our members joined in another local poker run.  It was a great day, with a lot of fun for all.  None of us won anything during the run.

 

            Shortly before this date, one of our newest members, “Gypsy”; an owner of a local establishment and a rider for many years, offered his establishment as a “club house”.  He will receive a set of “Colors” for his establishment.

 

4 April 2004

 

            Our third meeting and we are 25 strong with 7 pending applicants.  Several topics were discussed at this meeting, including; voting to become members of the Texas Confederation of Clubs (COC), planning for our involvement in the annual Run For The Wall and, planning a day ride to central New Mexico for a cookout.  Christine, my better half, was conscripted to be the treasurer.

 

24 April 2004

 

            In response to an invite from the Director of the Texas American Legion Riders, our Sergeant at Arms (John Masterblaster Gage), was the only rider who could comply.  We were invited to join in and participate in a funeral procession and service for a member of another post.  For the period of 24 – 26 April, John rode his “Steel Pony” 780 miles and met with the riders of Post 624 in Manfield, Texas.  The ride took him through some rather historical areas of west Texas to Ft Stockton, Marathon, Texas and wound up at Big Bend and St Helena canyon.  We all wish more of us could have made the trip, because it involved spreading the deceased rider’s ashes to the wind.

 

30 April 2004

 

            Charter membership is closed.  All members from 1 May 2004 on, cannot have Charter Membership status. The “Charter Membership Roll” is as follows:

      John (Loco Outlaw) Baird-Vet, Cheryl Burdett-Aux, James (JD) Dickey-Vet, John (Master Blaster) Gage-Vet, Vonda Griffith-Vet, Roger Hallie-Vet, Mack Hare-Vet, Tulara Hare-Aux, Gary (Mutt) Hoover-Vet, Teresa (Missy) Irizarry-Vet, Joseph (Gypsy) Magni-Vet, Ronald (Megg) Megginson-Vet, Thomas Morton-Vet, William (Airborne) Mote-Vet, Steven Nelson-Vet, Don (Gilligan) Pelton-Vet, Lorna Pelton-Aux, Randy Raulston-SAL, Rodney (Rod) Raulston-Vet, Cassandra (Mama Cass) Salas-Aux, Franklin (Frank) Salas-Vet, Glenn Scott-Vet, George (Doc) Sowers-Vet, Roger (Tiny) Watkins-Vet, Chris (Moonhanger) Williams-Vet and, Christine (LB) Williams-Aux.

 

15 May 2004

 

            “One hail of a run”.  0730 hours, 11 bikes, two trucks, one trailer and a van lined up for our “First” true run as an organization, for a total of 19 persons. 

Dubbed the 1st annual ALR run, I would make a motion to change the name since, it occurred on “Armed Forces Day” to; The Chapter 58 TX ALR Annual Armed Forces Day Run.  The run took us first to Barnett Harley-Davidson in Las Cruces, NM., for a quick pit stop. (Too much coffee and, maybe to pick up anyone else).  We took back roads all the way; from El Paso we followed route 28, from Las Cruces we followed route 188 to route 185 to route 26 to Caballo State Park, near Truth or Consequences (T or C), NM.  We had rented a pavilion for a cook out and family day.  I believe everyone had a great time. 

            The kids played in the Rio Grande and tried to bring home some dead fish in their pants pockets.  Something smelled funny.  We voted in our first “Honorary” member; John P Baird, for helping us a couple of months back with some hot food and a dry place in some very heavy rain.  We also visited the miniature Viet Nam Memorial in T or C and, thanks to our RC, we even got to ride on the sidewalk.  What a way to make an entrance.  We spent all day in the park, departing approximately 1700 hours.  The ride back was on the interstate (I-25) to (I-10) in an attempt to make time.  However, as we approached Las Cruces we could all see rain clouds in our path of travel.  Once we were south of Las Cruces, someone started throwing ice balls at us.  We pulled off the interstate, attempting to get out of it but to no avail. 

            From that point on to El Paso, we rode through rain, hail and heavy wind.  That makes this run officially – “One hail of a run”.  Total mileage was about 240 miles.

            Next Friday, 21 May 2004, 6 of us are going to join the “Run For The Wall” in Las Cruces and go to Odessa, TX. 

            Wishing we could go all the way to D.C.; some other time.  We do have one rider going all the way, George “Doc” Sowers, a former Navy Corpsman in Viet Nam.

 

20 May 2004

 

            The following is a piece of history.  As mentioned earlier, we were expecting 6 riders to join the RFTW (Run For The Wall); the annual pilgrimage to the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington D. C.  As it turned out, we had 10 riders and 9 of us joined the RFTW in Las Cruces, NM., on 20 May 2004.  Glenn Scott is a member of the RFTW committee, so he joined the run at its’ point of origination; Ontario, CA.  And, he will be going all the way.  So, 8 others packed down as if we were on a LRP and one driving our support truck began assembling the evening of 20 May with all 10 the morning of 21 May 2004.  The members who made the third leg of the RFTW are:  John Baird (Director), Mack Hare (Asst Director), Roger Watkins, Don & Lorna Pelton, (who provided the support truck and trailer)), John Gage, Gary Hoover, James Dickey and myself. 

            At the assembly point, Barnett’s Harley-Davidson in Las Cruces, there were approximately 150 other riders and a great send off.  We had the chance to meet the Director for the ALR from the state of Missouri and, I believe it is safe to say;

            Chapter 58, TX ALR made a most favorable statement through visibility.   Channel 4 news from El Paso was there and we were the focal point of a lot of their camera work.  Once we actually got started in our travel, we were again the focal point of a lot of camera work.  I suspect it was our “Colors”.  Numerous people, both officials and by standers alike, wanted pictures of us as a group and of our “Colors”.  The day’s travel took us south on I-25 to I-10 East, through El Paso to I-20 East end the day outside of Big Spring, TX.  Some 350 miles from out start point. 

            Riding in a large group or formation like that, is to say the least exhilarating however, the consensus of our group is; if we do this again, we would run in our own group, on our own schedule.  This thought comes from a couple of reasons.  For one, safety; though the RFTW has “Road Guards”, the closeness of positioning of all riders and the fact the riders’ level of abilities vary does provide the opportunity for accidents.  A second reason is; until the RFTW “Road Guards” are comfortable with one’s riding abilities, you are categorized.  Possibly this needs to occur but, it is not well received by seasoned riders.  It should be noted, “The American Legion Riders” from each state were supposed to be in the front platoon or the front of the procession. But, because of the “don’t know how you ride or the “FNG” category, we were not afforded that status.  A third reason is the fact you can’t stop when you would like. 

            Now back to some of the events which occurred.  The reception the procession received in Big Spring was almost overwhelming.  As the procession entered this small Texas town, the streets were lined with townspeople cheering, honking horns, news reporters and a dinner, consisting of steak and all the trimmings provided by the local American Legion.  It was absolutely unbelievable.  You would have thought a celebrity had arrived.  The same type of reception occurred in Las Cruces.  Both communities had wreath laying ceremonies at their respective local war memorials. 

            Accommodations at Big Spring, like any other location consisted of either motels or camping.  We chose to camp; sleeping under the west Texas skies, covered with nothing but stars was beautiful.  The morning of 22 May greeted us with the knowledge we had to return to the El Paso area.  We were thanked by the RFTW personnel for contributing to the cause and they hoped to see us again.  As the procession pulled out to continue to head east, we headed back west.  This was when the thought of doing this on own became real.  Running in a small pack, being able to stop when we needed to, just simply provided a much more relaxing journey.  The entire distance for us was around 800 miles, the only significant incidents for us, as a group, were; Roger dropped his bike entering a gas stop, hitting some gravel and a pot hole and John Gage getting hit in the head by a bird.  Feathers flew everywhere.  I was riding behind him and John Baird when it happened.  The bird simply flew into his helmet, feathers and the bird came at John Baird.  To watch it, it was rather humorous. 

            We ended our travel safely and, at this point I believe this organization is here to stay.    

 

14 June 2004

 

            Flag Day.  Our “AL” Post 58, held their annual “Flag Disposal” Ceremony today.  The ceremony was carried out by Troop 231, Boy Scouts.  They did a fabulous job.  Chapter 58 TX ALR members in attendance were:  My wife, Christine (LB), Don (Gilligan) Pelton, JD Dickey, Cheryl Burdett and myself.

            It was stated at the ceremony that, Post 58 is the only Post in Texas which still performs this ceremony.

 

Father’s Day

20 June 2004

 

            Several Chapter 58 Riders participated and helped work different stations or points during this Poker Run.  Overall, the Legion raised nearly $900.00 which, will be given to the local Veterans Outreach Program.  Local TV Stations have been contacted for coverage.  We also gained two to four new members.

 

15 July 2004

 

            Now at 33 members and less than five (5) months old, Chapter 58 Tx ALR joins the Confederation of Clubs (COC) of West Texas and became a member of the National COC as well.  Additionally, we also joined the West Texas Coalition of Motorcycle Clubs and Associations.

   

17 July 2004

 

            Members of Chapter 58, Tx ALR, rebuilt the Bar-B-Q  pit at the Post.  The following members helped:  John Baird & (Daughter) Brittney, Vonda Griffith, Don & Barbara Price, Don & Lorna Pelton, John Gage, JD, Frank Salas, Gary Hoover and Jeff Stevens.  Later in the evening, we were entertained to 60s music, played by our newest member’s (Don “Iguana” Price) band; the “Las Iguanas”.  This was part of El Paso’s “Music in the Park” held weekly at Veteran’s Park in North East El Paso.  All had a great time.

 

20 July 2004

A Call to Arms

     About two weeks ago, a young soldier from Ft Bliss; who is an EOD Specialist, (Ivan Westrick) was seriously injured while clearing a range of non-detonated ammunition.  Ivan is a native El Pasoan, is a rider and now has some very serious challenges ahead. 

            The accident caused the loss of his left hand and some fingers on his right hand.  Now, we’re seeing what the bike community can do.  Our Chapter has initiated a “Call to Arms” from the following, for support:  State of Texas ALR, TX., ALR National,  Choir Boys, West Texas Coalition of Motorcycle Clubs and Associations, The Texas Motorcycle Rider’s Association (TMRA), numerous businesses and other motorcycle organizations in the area.  Currently we have received support from Barnett’s Harley Davidson in El Paso and Las Cruces, NM.,  A local VFW Post has already stepped up to the plate with a donation.  As other forms of support come to bear on this issue it will be added to this document.

 

      24 July 2004

 

            The second working day on the BBQ pit.: Myself & Christine and (Son) Joshua, Don & Lorna Pelton, Frank & Cassie Salas, Rob Mote, John Gage, and Jeff & Emily Stevens.  We also signed up our 34th member, Spencer Wright. 

    We cleaned bricks for awhile, then the announcement was made someone is donating new bricks.  The work stopped.  Next Friday Don Pelton and my son Joshua are going to mow the Post’s field again.

 

31 July 2004

 

            During the Post Installation of Officers dinner and dance; the Chapter 58 TX ALR was recognized for our efforts with several Certificates of Appreciation from the Post.  There seems to be no doubt, we are accepted in this Post and the community.  Well done, Fellow Riders!

 

1 August 2004

 

            As the coalition and other clubs and associations, businesses and persons making donations and making plans to support us and Ivan continues to grow, we have set a date for a Poker Run on 4 September 2004.  Currently, the benefit has the potential to be very successful.  As events occur, they will be added.

            On this date, during this month’s meeting, the association voted to pass the duty of “Historian” to; Lorna Pelton.  I must say, I wish her well and I will miss being able to add my jabber to this document.  “Moonhanger”.

 

12 August 2004

 

            Two new members joined our ranks.  Robert Matts (#35) and Brittany Baird (#36).  Don’t know how a youngin’ snuck in.

 

14 August 2004

 

            Well, as good things would have it; Lorna & I together are working on this document.  I guess a have a gift to gab and she most certainly knows how to blend photos.  Hell, I thought we still had “tins”.

              On this date, we paid a neighborly visit to Post #10, in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  They are standing up an ALR Chapter and asked us to come for their event.  We went and we saw.  I, along with everyone else from Chapter 58 who attended, felt the same way about their Post.  It didn’t seem very inviting from the Post Commander’s point.  We do wish them well and all the success we’ve had.  Possibly we’ll have some neighborly runs together.  Those who attended were:  John Baird (Director), Brittney Baird (Aux), John Baird (Hon), John Gage (SGT @ Arms) and his guest, Don Pelton, Lorna Pelton (Joint Historian), Joe Magni (Gypsy), Cathy Magni (Witch), Frank Salas (RC), Gary Hoover (IT), Mack Hare (Asst Dir), Chuck from Post 516 (Ft Worth) and myself.  Chuck actually brought us a donation check for the benefit run for Ivan Westrick.

 

 

15 August 2004

Run for the Stars

              The early morning hours in El Paso woke up to the thundering exhaust of ten bikes, with a total of  15 riders.  They were:  John Baird, John Baird (no I didn’t stutter), Brittany, Robert Matts, Cathline Matts, Rob Mote, Spencer Wright, Don Pelton, Lorna Pelton, Mack Hare, Tulara hare, Frank Salas, myself and Christine Williams.  Tulara’s back was hurting, so she drove a chase vehicle and Cassie Salas couldn’t make it, she had to work (Yuk).  Additionally, Chuck from Ft Worth joined us for this run.  Before I go any further, I am giving Frank, our RC, the official road name as “Rainman”.  It seems, every long ride we take, it rains.  And did it ever rain on our parade today.  We we’re thirty miles out of El Paso before we started getting a mist and a little water on the road.  Seventy-five miles into it we stopped at the Golden Corral in Alamogordo for some good ole fashion vittles.  Chuck left at this point; he had to get back to leave for Houston.  From there we headed to Cloud Croft, getting chilly and a little wetter.  About another twenty-five miles and an elevation of 7000 feet, we were chilly and wet.  This was a good time to consume more Coffee for the riders and, a little window shopping at the local shops.  Now for the fun part departing Cloud Croft we headed to our destination of Sun Spot.  That’s a laugh.   It started raining harder and, getting colder.  Thankfully, everyone was smart enough to bring appropriate clothing.  As we climbed to over 9000 feet, the rain got harder, it had ice (yes ice) missed into it and the temp dropped to a sultry 52 degrees.  I don’t know about the other riders but, I was losing traction on the road, I could feel my rear tire breaking loose in the turns and, there were plenty of turns.  Fortunately, we kept our speed down.  Once we arrive at the Sun Observatory at Sun Spot, we were above the clouds and received another down pour for at least an hour.  We talked the attendant into making a pot of coffee for us and, we thanked him and paid him.

            Finally, the rain let up enough for us to leave.  We didn’t see any sun but, we did experiment with an infrared device which showed all your hot spots.  Some of them were in some interesting places.

            Riding back to Cloud Croft, we received more rain, as if we weren’t wet enough already.  Getting back to Cloud Croft, we invaded a little pizza shop.   When we first went in, we did get the ole; “God, here comes a bunch of bikers” look.  But once there, they realized we were human.  Well, almost human.  Our infamous Director found out just how cold his own hands could be.  Ole John went into the John and quickly had to go on a search for his…, well you know.  As soon as his cold hands found their prey, he came out and informed everyone in the place that was not something you wanted to do.  Apparently, they all thought it to be funny.  Then to warm his hands he stuck them in the pizza oven, it must have felt good because he then stuck his head and ears in.

            Rob Mote didn’t make the trip to Sun Spot with us.  He went to look at some property so, he was nice and clean and not wet. 

Making us all feel better, Rob, very professionally rolled in a med puddle.  Now here’s a Captain in the U.S. Army.  Do I need to say any more on that?

            Before leaving to return, we took a vote for everyone there to be entered in the “Wet Butt” Club and, the Chapter account will pay for that.  So I will write the story and get it in with all the names.

            The return trip didn’t go without rain.  Go figure that.  Coming down the mountain from Cloud Croft, we hit more rain but, what could we see in front of us; could it be clearing sky?  Yes it was, so at the gas point, several riders took off their wet weather gear.  Wrong answer for that one, as we headed back to El Paso we kept watching the one, huge, black cloud.  So back on with the wet weather gear and, did we ever get dumped on.  It was like it was Mother Nature’s last hurrah.  It was torrential.  Finally we made it back and, everyone had a great time, even with all the rain.  So, as we would say, this ride was definitely official.

 

17 August 2004

 

            Well, the members who made the trip to Sun Spot are, on this date, officially members of the “Wetbutt Riders Association”.  Patches are being ordered for all and something which resembles a certificate will be made up for display in the Post.

 

4 September 2004

“Ivan’s Run”

 

            This day turned out to be a glorious day for all who participated.  For the Legion Riders; it was a day we “earned” our “Colors”.  If the Legion Riders could receive a “Battle Streamer”, they would have earned it.  Of our membership roster count, we had 50% participation.  Which for a non-profit, volunteer organization, this is noteworthy.

            Ivan’s Run, was a run to help a fellow comrade who lost his left hand and parts of his fingers on his right hand, when an explosive device exploded.  The run was to raise money to help him and his family.  At this point in time, we have raised over $2500 and the counting is not over yet.

            The Legion Riders were not out to make a name for themselves, the run was to help Ivan.  However, two things came from this run.  The help to Ivan and his family and, the notoriety brought upon the Legion Riders.  This Chapter has only been in existence for 8 months and, they are now recognized within the community, the State of Texas and nationally, as an organization that delivers.  This Poker run brought together many motorcycle organizations and clubs, proving we all support the same causes.  If anyone had any doubt or questions of the validity of this Chapter, there are no questions now.

            A special thanks, goes to many businesses in the community and to many other organizations, which supported. 

            The following is a list or supporting organizations; I hope none are left out.  The businesses and organizations which supported are:  Barnett’s Harley-Davidson (El Paso & Las Cruces), Mulligan’s North, Bikers & Babes, Siam Zoo, Banana Joe’s, VFW 812 and, local Tattoo artistries.

            The motorcycle clubs and Organizations which supported are:  (In no particular order) American Legion Rider Chapters; 516, 121, the Chapter from Brownswood, Texas, and The State of Texas; American Legion Riders of the State of Wisconsin.  Also; The Choir Boys, Maltese Knights, Dueces’ Wild, In Country Vets, Iron Horses, The Muchachas, Banditos-Texas, War Hippies, Rising Eagles, Road Queens and, numerous independents.  A special note; American Legion Riders Chuck Noe, Carl

( Hardluck), Mike, (Big Mike)  Mike and (Slow Bob) all road in from points across Texas for support and participation.  Their visit was noteworthy. 

            Additionally, a special thank you goes to; David Crozier, Post Commander, Post 58 and Martie Folmer, 1st Vice Commander, 16th District (Texas) for their physical presence, participation and support for this event.

            I, for one, am very proud to be wearing the Colors of this chapter.  Chapter 58, The American Legion Riders of Texas.    

 

17 September 2004

Aspencade Run

 

            It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and a little cool. The legion riders of chapter 58 began another adventure. This time we were to invade Ruidoso's Annual Aspencade. We all met at the shell station on MLK and US 54 at 7:00 am. Lots of riders from all over El Paso, many fellow legion riders and some who wished they were, showed up for the run. We had about 26 riders in all, some new and some old, my sister and her to young'uns followed us in her van which was designated as the "official chase vehicle" for the day.  We headed out.

            The next stop was The Edge of Texas to pick more riders, Roger and his bride also met up with us there. Back out on the road, we were led by our fearless leader John (outlaw) Baird and he did a fair job at leading that many riders (ha ha). Our next stop was Alamogordo NM, for fuel and breakfast. We all decided to take the long way and go through Cloud Croft NM, and we knew John wanted to play in the tunnel (boy, do you think he really likes his pipes?) As we headed off John told Don and myself to take the RC position (thank you Lord there is a GOD....love ya John....). So on we went through the back way to Ruidoso. The sound of 25 bikes through the valleys and hills was like thunder (yes i said 25, we lost one rider who choose to ride on from Alamo). Around every curve you could look back to see all those Iron horses with their riders. Their butts sore and desperately needing to stop, there was no where to pull over for that many bikes. Passing every mile of road, the scenery become more picturesque ( wow, big word for me), finally we arrived in Ruidoso with out going up any side walks. Ha Ha!

            Pulling into the rally site at 12 noon  we all decided to split up and go our own separate ways. The time to meet back at the bike was set for 3 pm. Roger and his wife held a spot for all of us in the line to get into the Rally. A Big THANKS to Roger and his wife. (the line was all the way out the door and up the drive almost to US 70!). Once inside we looked around and found John a girl friend.. that’s right the Calendar girl. Nothing on but leather chaps, leather panties, and a leather bikini top. Don found his next Motorcycle at the Rio Yamaha's booth.(keep dreaming dear)

   3 pm arrived with only 8 riders left. We headed out from the rally site, and went up town to do some shoppin'. Then we stopped in Cafe' Rio for some really good Pizza, the guys and some of the ladies sat and relaxed awhile. My sister and I finished a little more shopping. It started to rain on us (so our luck goes, and Frank wasn't even there!)  and it was getting late so we mounted up and rode out of town in the Chapter 58 fashion, loud and proud. Led by Don. I chose to ride back in the van to keep my sister company.

  With only 7 rider's left, the next stop was Alamogordo for more fuel and say our fair well's. The journey was good, the day was great, with all that had past we enjoyed another great ride together. "Next time I hope you can ride with us Chris so I don't have too strain my brain so much typing the reports." My daughter had to proof read this... so if there's something wrong, blame her! I'm not taking the blame for this one! - hope this is okay

Signing out - - Lorna Pelton


Elephant Butte Days

25 September 2004

 

            We were invited by American Legion Post 44, Elephant Butte, N.M. to participate in their annual parade and festival.  Imagine that, a bunch of Texans invited to another state and, they even fed us.  Along with Post 44, we met up with the NM ALR Chapter from Albuquerque, seeing some riders we had met previously.  It was a nice reunion.  Anyway, this ride could easily be named “Elephants and Peanuts” for reasons I’ll discuss later.

            It was a beautiful autumn desert morning, a slight chill in the air and a clear sky.  Yes, I said a clear sky.  Rainman said he couldn’t make the trip today, so Mutt was our “RC”.  At 0630, we formed up with a dozen riders, a good showing for something like this, at our moment of departure, guess who showed up?  Yup, Rainman.  At 0700, we pulled out for our 140 mile jaunt to Elephant Butte.  Ya know what?  We found some rain; that was so nice Rainman.  Ya know the rumor, we can’t ride long distance without some rain, that makes our rides official.  At a fuel point, we noticed “Em’s” pipes really smoking.  It was her leather pants laying against the exhaust, kind of set them nearly in flames, so she has been dubbed a road name as; “Hotpants”.  We arrived in the metropolis of Elephant Butte about half an hour before the parade start time, which was good.  Gave us time to refuel, relieve a few bladders and, get lined up.  Now this was a happenin’ parade, complete with horses (which we followed) and road apples.  And, there were more of us than spectators. Thank God, it was not real long; we were going too slow for feet up and, just a little to fast for feet down, which created a healthy workout on the ole clutch and arms.  Everyone there seemed to really appreciate us and, when we brought out our new colors on a guidon, folks really looked..  You would have thought the old cavalry had just ridden in.  Our director could have easily have picked up another road name as well.  He and Mutt, were crankin the ole “V Twins” and makin the pipes roar when, his clutch started slippin.  The thought came to mind to re-name him “clutch”, but I don’t know if that will stick or not.

            At the end of the parade, we all went to Post 44 for some grippin and grinnin and, eatin some good ole burgers, bratwurst and burritos.  The food and company was very appreciated.  Before departing, we went to the lake at Elephant Butte.  We keep hearing on the news how low it is from the multiple year draught and, it is.  Hopefully, the draught will be over soon.

            So now it’s off for the return trip, first planned stop was Las Cruces for bike fuel and people fuel.  Now here is where the title could easily change.  We stopped at Farley’s, a rather nice restaurant, and that’s where it started.  Tombstone’s famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral”, with the Earps’, Doc Holiday and the Clayton Brothers has nothing on the, “someday famous peanut fight at Farley’s patio”.  Farley’s is the type of place where you throw the peanut shells on the floor.  We moved to the patio (outside) and were all sitting there enjoying a little vittles and relaxing, when I got hit by a flying peanut.  That was the beginning.  After a few minutes, it was a nearly, all out battle between the big kids and the little kids, throwing peanuts back and forth.   I’m really surprised we weren’t asked to leave but, maybe we were the entertainment.  After a good fifteen minutes of peanuts flying back and forth, we decided it was time to leave.  We got gas and headed on back to El Paso, like a bunch of peanut fighters should;  bringing closure to another fine day, riding through the badlands of West Texas and New Mexico as Chapter 58, The Texas American Legion Riders.  With peanuts holstered.

 

Veteran’s Day Weekend

6 & 7 November 2004

 

            Well, as we all know, Veteran’s Day is 11 November.  However most veteran’s day activities were held the weekend prior to; and, the American Legion Riders jumped into it with both feet.  First off, we joined our post in the annual El Paso Veteran’s Day parade through downtown El Paso.  This event turned out to be significant, for not only the Legion Riders but the post as well.  Our post (Post 58) was the first American Legion Post lined up in the parade.  We had a significant number of participants along with 20 Legion Rider bikes and about a half a dozen members from the Rough Riders M/C.  As we wound our way through the streets of El Paso, the rumble of the V-Twins could be heard for quite a distance; even an occasional hum from “Sir Talks-a-lot’s” 4-cylinder Yamaha could be heard.  Between the old brick buildings magnifying that awesome sound and a, more than occasional, “roll on the throttle”, there’s no doubt everyone knew we were there.  The crowd lined the streets and, kids from tots to the elderly were thoroughly pleased.  Which, in-turn, gave us a very solid feeling of accomplishment and appreciation.  This was our first annual El Paso Veteran’s Day parade but, it certainly won’t be our last.  I would venture to say by the reception the Legion Riders received; even if we didn’t want to participate we would not be able to do that.

            After the parade was over, seven Legion Riders assembled back at the corral (Post), for a little trek to Truth or Consequences, NM to deliver a donation check to their Viet Nam War Memorial.  Truth or Consequences or “T or C”, is about 110 miles north into central New Mexico.  We departed and returned without really any incidents, except our fearless leader picked up a nail in his front tire.  However, being a safety minded individual he is, he rode it for about 150 miles, then repaired it the next day.

            Sunday morning we were back at it again.  This time, moseying out of the corral, to join in the; “West Texas Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs’ 22d Annual Toys for Tots Run.”  This turned out to be one of the largest events in Texas and all its’ outlying counties; the rest of the United States, if you didn’t get my drift. 

The confederation was supporting 1200 children in the poorer sections of El Paso, each rider and passenger brought at least one toy each to support this effort.  The line up was at the International Truck Driving School’s parking lot and driving course.  The lot was absolutely filled to beyond capacity.  A final tally isn’t available at this point but, estimates are at 1500 motorcycles supporting this very needy cause.  That’s at least 2000 to 3000 toys for less privileged children.  Say what you may about the biker community but, one thing for sure; bikers do have a heart and they will take care of the communities!  Imagine for a moment 1500 bikes, running two up, mile after mile, through the streets of El Paso.  Along the Mexican border and through some of the empowerment zones of town, lined with people of all ages.  The children knew exactly what was going on, with bikers dressed in red Santa suits covered with their club or organization colors, packed with toys winding through the streets.  The looks of excitement on their faces and the verbal “Thanks” we could hear coming from the crowds, gave us all a feeling of “Knowing we were doing right”.  What I find amazing is this; in a town which is very supportive of Veterans, because of Ft Bliss and its’ history and, what the Confederation has been doing year after year, there was absolutely no mention on the news networks or in the news paper of either of these huge events.  These are the biggest things since John Wesley Hardin was killed on a dusty street downtown. That’s sad.

            As the Legion Riders enter into the end of the calendar year, we have a few more activities before we settle down with our families and enjoy the holidays.  We will be hitting it hard at the beginning of 2005.  We have only been in existence for 9 months and, already we have established notoriety throughout most of Texas’ outlying counties.  Just imagine what 2005 will bring.  We have created something awesome.  We are proud of our organization and, we are strong and, we are accepted by the rest of the community.

 

Veteran’s Day

11 November 2004

(Battle of Longview)

 

            On this day, we all stop for a moment to say “thanks” and to honor all who have worn the uniform of this country’s armed forces;  its’ a time to honor ourselves and, those who came before us and those who are becoming veterans on this very day.

            The post held a cookout, complete with burgers, dogs, beans and all the other trimmings.  The cookout was not attended by very many people, possibly since it was in the middle of the week. 

            On this day we also have been drawn into a battle of another nature.  It is a battle which is testing the camaraderie and strength of the entire Texas American Legion Riders Motorcycle Association and our supporting posts, as well. 

            As Texans have stood up before and, as most people expect Texans to react, this battle is no different.  Like other battles involving the state of Texas, not all involved are true Texans, which is the same in Chapter 58 however, we have all taken a stronghold here and we aren’t letting go.  Therefore, I’m calling this “The Battle of Longview”.  We have slogans, which all recognize, such as; “Don’t Mess with Texas” and “Remember the Alamo”, well this one will go down as “Remember the Battle of Longview”.  This is not a battle of military forces but, rather a battle of politics.  The basis of this battle is this; A few American Legion members from Longview, who are not members of the ALR have attempted a “coup” of the TX ALR.  At this point in time, these three persons are facing an opposing force of over 800 Texas Riders, an unknown number of ranking American Legion officials from Texas and an unknown number of supporting persons from Texas’ outlying counties.  That would be neighboring states for those reading this and not understanding the lingo here.

            This battle is only beginning and, as developments occur they will be posted in this history document.  At current, we have a letter and petition being signed by all Chapter 58 members and, this petition has support throughout the American Legion community.  It does go without saying, if diplomacy fails, this issue may have to be settled the ole fashion way by, opening a can of Texas whoop-ass.

 

Las Cruces, NM Toy Run

21 November 2004

 

            Zero seven hundred, chilly, gassing up and ready to roll for the Las Cruces, N.M. Toy Run.  Rainman isn’t with us, so we’re in good shape, weather wise.  Only five riders showed up for this event. (Boo).  Oh well, we had a good trip, its’ only about 45 miles to this event and its’ for a good cause; to help children in the area.  This event, like many other; we are the ones who show up first.  Just like in the Army, hurry up and wait.  We got to the registration point by 0830, and we were the only bikes there, thinking it was show time at 1000, we went and got some chow to ward off the cold.  After returning, we then find out show time is not ‘til 1130 to 1200.  So, there was lots of time to waste.  By the time, the run got started, I would guess, there were probably 600 to 700 riders, a good showing.  I must say, whoever organized this run slept through run organization class 101, everybody was taking off like a herd of turtles, with a horrible right hand “U” turn to make.  Amazingly, everyone made it out of the chute okay.  However, during the run, there was some type of accident involving a couple of bikes.

            We made it through the run and onto the festivities, but a couple of us had to leave early and headed by to the corral.  Another run, done.

 

Breakfast – Legion Rider Style and

An update on The Battle of Longview

6 December 2004

 

            During the last general membership meeting, the motion was made to sponsor a breakfast, thus picking up a little change for our fund.  The motion passed and we did.  Like everything else this Chapter does, this breakfast was no different.  Everything is done to the best of everyone’s ability.  We even had non-members heavily involved in the activities and provided to a great success.

            The word was put out throughout town we were having a breakfast prior to the Annual USMC Toy Run.  The Legion has a breakfast every Sunday but, they haven’t seen this many people show up for anything in quite a while.  It was amazing and gratifying to, not only see so many people but, so many different “Colors” from throughout the coalition, all sitting down with their mouths full.  Helpers and workers were waiting tables, serving coffee, collecting bills and, cooking to beat hell; and the food was great.

            There we were, in the early December morn; the sun just coming up, chill in the air, the smell of pecan wood burning in the camp fires, the sound of that same wood crackling.  Then out of no where, as we were gathering in the “Long House”, preparing the dusty wooden tables with plates, a sound so awesome, so invigorating it put chills on the hardest of people.  The sound of “V-Twin” steel ponies thundering from the badlands of West Texas became overwhelming.  Dust rolling from the rear tires, black leather clad vet riders from all over converging on the little West Texas town of El Paso.  Meanwhile, back in the Long House, the cooks were preparing the vittles; fresh eggs, gravy, bacon, potatoes and, everything else to go with it.  As riders started coming in, parking those steel ponies and grabbing hot coffee…

            Wow, got your attention there, didn’t I?

            Now I do think a few feathers were ruffled.  This was the first time we did this and, remember, we are still relatively new to the post.  There’s still a group of hardliners who just haven’t entirely accepted a bunch of bikers coming in, and to some, taking over.  The only thing we can say is; get over it.  To help them get over it, I believe we are going to do this quarterly.  They should take notes and maybe their breakfasts will be a little more successful.  The breakfast ended up with 21 Legion Riders, over 150 hungry patrons and  9 Legion Riders participating in the USMC Toy Run.

            A note about the status of the “Battle of Longview”; all are in a political waiting game at the moment.  We’re still not sure how this is going to turn out.  A statewide statement being made is; riders are covering the word Texas with anything from duct tape to black cloth, as a symbol of protest.  And, a number of us are going to ride to Austin in January for the Department Executive Meeting.  That’s about 1300 miles round trip in some pretty cold weather, but it will be worth it.  At this point, locally we have the support of the Post Commander and the District Commander.  The battle may be just assembling.

 

Last Ride for Tuff Cookie

6 December 2004

 

            Today, our Chapter participated in an event, which was equal to laying a comrade to rest.  We participated in a funeral for a nine year old boy.  At nine years of age, a boy should be doing almost anything other than being laid to rest.  Our Director, Loco Outlaw, wanted me to re-write his article, but after reading it I decided it needs to be printed as stated.  The following is Loco’s article about today’s ride.

            0900 hours, it’s wet, cold and a national weather service wind advisory was in effect.  A small group of Legion Riders met at Post 58 for a moment that was just as somber and bleak as the weather.  For today a nine year old boy is taking his last ride here on earth in a gray Cadillac, en route to the place where his body will lay for all eternity.  And the American Legion Riders Chapter 58 has been asked to ride escort for this young man.  You see, he enjoyed nothing more than the chance to get to ride on the back of someone’s bike at almost every run or event in El Paso.  When asked, he would tell you that he was a biker, just like his Dad and Uncle.  His name was Little Eric, his rider name was “Tuff Cookie.”  Eric had various heart conditions that made him special to his family and friends.  Last week, while was attending school, he began to choke on a frank.  His airway was cleared, the breathing was restored, but not before it was too much for the heart of this little man.  He suffered a heart attack and died.  Don Pelton, John Gage, Mary Day, John P. Baird, Joe Magni, Juan Ruiz and myself volunteered to ride for this child and his family.  Although we had good conversation with fellow riders from various motorcycle organizations here in El Paso during the day, the idea of why we were there lingered in my mind till the end.  For us, the weather didn’t matter.  There could have been tornados with a blizzard in the middle of it, and we still would have rode.  Although I am filled with pride at the fact that we were asked to ride, my heart is truly saddened to see the life of such a young fellow biker be taken so quickly.  I just hope that God finds it in his heart to give “Tuff Cookie” a little bike that he can ride around in Heaven.  This is Loco Outlaw signing out.  

Jaime Gomez Jr Benefit Run

15 December 2004

 

            Well, once again the Legion Riders showed our strength and Colors to support a young boy in Houston.  Jaime Gomez Jr., was riding his bicycle to work one day and was hit by a cage.  Jaime lived but, has been left as a quadriplegic.  His parents put the word out through the “Confederation” and, the Confederation came together. 

Benefit runs throughout the state were conducted, with the proceeds going to the family, helping to pay medical bills.  This benefit, not being much different, we participated.  This is just one of the reasons we exist.

 

End of the Year

31 December 2004

 

            Its’ the end of the year and, the end of our first year; lauded in the pages of this document are the episodes Chapter 58 has been involved in.  We have participated in numerous runs; some for fun, some for benefit but, all for the “cause”.  We rose around $7000 to help those in need.  We rode in parades, poker runs, fun runs, family outings, cooked breakfast, toy runs and had our own collections as well.

            We came on the scene as a “un heard of” organization.  In the past 12 months, we have made a name for ourselves, which will not be forgotten.  The Confederation and the Coalition both, know who we are and we are so recognized by them, our “Colors” have been framed and mounted at Mulligan’s North Bar and Grill in El Paso.

            Our membership has gone from the initial half dozen, to 48.  Not bad, considering we were told it would never work.  As I said early on, nay sayers, beware.  Even as good as that sounds, we will be losing a few members; I guess some changed their minds.  That’s okay, no hard feelings toward anyone.

            There’s no need to re-hash everything printed in the previous pages, I will close this year by saying this; being a Legion Rider of Chapter 58 Paso del Norte has been an experience which will never be forgotten.  We are proud!

 

 

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